Soft Hornwort - Ceratophyllum submersum


A submerged, free-floating bright green aquatic plant having a feathery appearance in water. The leaves are soft and three or four forked. The small flowers are green.

Similar Species

Ceratophyllum demersum (Rigid Hornwort) has leaves that divide no more than twice from their base. C submersum (Soft Hornwort) has leaves divided 3-4 times.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Leaves forked 3 - 4 times

Recording advice

Either obtain confirmation from a County Recorder before submitting a record, or submit detailed images showing key features.  We recommend that you take and retain a specimen; the County Recorder may wish to see this for confirmation. (RPR)


Ponds, still water.

When to see it

Flowers July to September.

Life History


UK Status

Locally distributed in England and Wales.

VC55 Status

Infrequent and local in Leicestershire and Rutland; may be abundant where it occurs.

The Flora of Leicestershire (Primavesi & Evans, 1988) states that it occurred in 22 of the 617 tetrads.  It was not recorded in the Flora of Rutland (Messenger 1971).

In the current VC55 checklist (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as rare, but possibly overlooked.

It is on the VC55 Rare Plant Register (Hall & Woodward 2022) as Locally Scarce. 

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Spineless Hornwort, Soft Hornwort
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
22/09/2012 (Nicholls, David)
Last record:
22/09/2012 (Nicholls, David)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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